AP classes weigh heavily on students

Stress, rigor, and the pressure of APs dominate school culture

AP Classes: the pinnacle of education at Blake. They are often the highest level of any particular subject offered, yet some students have been known to shove anywhere from three to five AP classes into their schedule, especially during junior year.

As this trend becomes more prominent, it is vital to understand why students are making these choices and commitments.     

One common reason is to continue on what students see as their path through high school. Jeff Santelli ‘17 says that “To continue to study the subject you’re interested in, you will likely have to move into the AP Program.”

This is only logical, and works to bring many students into the challenging and rigorous AP Program.

However, while AP classes can seem important, they are by no means required to pursue a study in any given field, or as a threshold as to whether or not one will get into college.

But, as this practice starts to become the “norm,” more and more students are taking courses that they themselves might not really want to take.

“Parents, other students, and even enthusiastic teacher encouragement can definitely pressure students to take APs they might not be otherwise interested in” says Grace Seeley ‘17.

As these pressures build up, many students end up with course loads that are far too rigorous. I know, because it almost happened to me!

While taking as many hard courses as possible can sometimes seem the best option, and even necessary to present oneself to prospective colleges, this is far from the truth. Too many AP classes will cause an excess of stress, and can actually make performance drop. This has nothing to do with how smart you are, but rather how much time you really have, and your willingness to live at your desk.

Besides, “These are challenging college-level courses that you can absolutely take in college!” says Dr. Deborah Weiss, Upper School science teacher.

And that is the overall message: of course high school is hard, but taking on more than you can handle is not only unhealthy, but is completely unnecessary. No matter what path you choose, make sure you leave some time to stop and smell the roses. Your grades will be better, your life will be less stressful, and high school will be that much easier!